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Wayne State University

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Nov 5 / Geoffrey Nathan

A New, bad reason to be careful with attachments

There’s a new, really evil virus floating around, and a couple of machines at Wayne State have caught it. It’s a new(ish) kind of attack called ‘ransomware’ (according to my buddies at the American Dialect Society it’s also occasionally spelled ‘ransomeware’). If you get it, it encrypts your files. Your data files. Then it prompts you for a credit card, and you have to pay to get your files back. If you don’t, after a set amount of time the encryption key is destroyed and you are entirely out of luck. The files are unrecoverable (unless you have the resources of the NSA šŸ™‚ )

As I mentioned, several WSU machines were recently (last two days) infected with this piece of nastiness.

So, what can you do to protect yourself?

Don’t open attachments from people you are not expecting to get attachments from. This includes ‘people’ like UPS, FEDEX or Kinko’s, unless you know there is actually something that ought to be coming.

Make sure you have our free Symantec Antivirus suite on all your computers (get it atĀ and make sure it’s up to date.

Back up your files to a separate drive, and if you’re infected all you will lose is what’s not yet backed up.

If you do get this message:




Immediately disconnect your computer from the network cable (if you’re wired) or turn off WiFi (if you’re wireless) and contactĀ the C&IT Help Desk at (313) 577-4778. Do not attempt to move files or circumvent the problem.

For more information seeĀ



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  1. Geoffrey Nathan / Nov 6 2013

    Since I wrote this there have been numerous reports across the country of other universities getting hit with this mess. So far, there seem to be no antidotes–if you’re infected you either pay or lose the files. So, two lessons:
    1. Backup your files offsite frequently (to a network, to a thumb drive, to a portable hard drive)
    2. Don’t open attachments unless you’re absolutely sure you know what it is before you open it.

  2. Geralyn Stephens / Nov 7 2013

    Thanks for sharing! This is very important information.

  3. Barb M / Nov 7 2013

    Thanks for the advice and directions. How unfortunate that some people are making money this way.

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